Archive for April, 2017

Module 5

Part One: Learner Centered Methods

Since I will be working with high school students in English classrooms, most of the motivation will come from:

  •  Intrinsically wanting to do well in the class; being able to achieve goals and expectations set by me as their teacher
  • Extrinsically wanting to get good grades on class-work and for an overall course grade

Learner centered methods I could employ may include the use of literature circles. This not only allows the students to have a hand in choosing their own course material and how they intend on spending class time, but they are also working in groups to complete text based questions while also discussing the content– gaining multiple relevant view points in the process.

In this situation, classroom design would also aid in the student centered context. As we discussed in class, desks can be arranged in a way that students are seated close together or in groups separated by the book they are working on in class.

A useful assessment for literature circles are group presentations at the end of the unit, discussing main points of each group’s book and how their interactions with the text may have have given insight, changed opinions on subjects, or broadened understandings about topics or ideas introduced.

In this case, backwards design is the most effective method of creating lesson plans, as I can focus on what needs to be understood and how different standards can be introduced before assigning books that may or may not be effective in doing so.

Part Two

Lesson Plan at this link

For this activity, I used backwards design to create a lesson plan that focuses on the standard, “Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.” Backwards design focuses on what standards and goals the educator has for the student and incorporates methods into the curriculum that achieves those goals.


In my lesson plan, rather than starting with a unit then moving into the concepts it encompasses, I started with a standard that I wanted to incorporate into my curriculum then created an assignment to do so. The assessments include the written document created by students discussing two different quotes that discuss verbal and nonverbal information effecting the story and its characters. A non-formal assessment is the discussion of thesis statements in class and how the students decide they should move forward with the prompt I have provided.

In section three, I take into account learner development by setting clear expectations and allowing class discussion. Having the students discuss the assignment allows those who are confident to share their ideas while those who are unsure have backup from their peers to either reassure their own ideas or introduce new ones that can spark further development. I chose this method because it allows so much room for student choice and involvement in the process of their learning. This also can create an inherent sense of engagement or responsibility for learning. Being able to share ideas among peers can also create engagement and interest due to the pressure to meet group expectations.

By focusing on the desired outcomes, it will help me as an educator choose which books will be most effective in facilitating successful understanding of the standards I am trying to incorporate into my lessons. In this situation, I think that backwards design would be much more helpful than hindering.



Aguilar, E. (2010, November 30). The Power of Literature Circles in the Classroom. Retrieved April, 2017, from

Teaching Multicultural Literature . Workshop 5 . Teaching Strategies . Literature Circles. (n.d.). Retrieved April, 2017, from   (Annenberg Learner Organization)

3 comments April 24th, 2017

Module 4: Differences in the Classroom

In my future career as a teacher, I expect to encounter students with a range of differences, from cultural background to economic status, and students with disabilities and high performers. From my experience observing in the classroom, I was able to see how a cooperating teacher was able to adjust curriculum for all of her students, which went from high performance classrooms, all the way to low performing students who were mainly ELL or those with IEP’s. I can identify these differences by reviewing assessments and communicating with prior educators as well as special education teachers. Having conferences with students’ families to discuss their background and knowledge of the individual needs of their child would also be beneficial.

One way I can plan to work with a range of scoring students in the classroom would be to implement groupwork regularly into my curriculum. According to Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center of Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, “Group projects can help students develop a host of skills that are increasingly important in the professional world (Caruso & Woolley, 2008; Mannix & Neale, 2005). Positive group experiences, moreover, have been shown to contribute to student learning, retention and overall college success (Astin, 1997; Tinto, 1998; National Survey of Student Engagement, 2006).” The article goes on to say that working with diverse viewpoints can benefit the development of collaborative skills. Its important to plan for differences in ability and educational level because not all students come in the same, and not all coursework will be at the appropriate level of difficulty for each student. Allowing students to work together gives them additional opportunities to explain work to other students, and therefore deepen their own understanding, while the student having difficulty with work has the opportunity to discuss issues or questions they may not feel comfortable with discussing in a large class setting. This setting also has a breakdown of the student-teacher power dynamic, which can be intimidating for students who are having difficulty with content material and assignments.

Another major difference among students is economic status (and family situation in general), which according to Woolfolk, is the greatest indicator of cultural difference. As per the discussion on Lareau, not all students are given the same opportunities. I mentioned in my Module 4 Activity that I definitely identify with the middle class family and student dynamic. I had the opportunity to participate in groups and activities outside of school. I also had a really supportive family that encouraged me to pursue my interest in reading. Not all students will come into my class with the support from their family, nor the ability to participate in activities and groups outside of the class.

When I was in school, I recall a teacher that assigned each student to buy and bring in wipe-off markers to be left in the classroom bin, which would be a five point grade in the grade book. I remember feeling personally annoyed at having to pay for something for class that I wouldn’t be using, but for a student who didn’t have the funds, this “assignment” could be really frustrating and embarrassing. This would either force the student to speak with the teacher about their financial situation or take the 0/5 grade for not bringing in markers. In the future, I must be more aware of and sensitive to my students’ situations and avoid situations that would force them to either divulge sensitive information they wouldn’t have ordinarily shared, or set them up for failure through no fault of their own.


University, C. M. (n.d.). What are the benefits of group work?-Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation – Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved April, 2017, from
Hoy, A. W. (2017). Educational psychology: active learning edition (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Lareau, A. (2013, March 26). Do parenting strategies affect the long term outcomes for children? An interview with Annette Lareau [YouTube Video]. Https://

1 comment April 5th, 2017

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